The recycling of paper is one of the most important recycles that exist. Thanks to it, the felling of many trees is avoided and, in addition, the use of toxic bleaches such as chlorine that, if not managed properly, ends up released into the environment. However, although recycling paper and cardboard is such an important task, it is also necessary to remember that not all types of paper can be recycled. In fact, some of them will have to be discarded and will end up in an incinerator once used without being able to do anything about it.
Why is there paper that cannot be recycled?
Actually, when we talk about recycling paper, we are referring to cellulose . That is to say, the main material that makes up the paper and that is extracted from the wood of the trees. However, for this cellulose to be recycled, it must be in acceptable conditions. This means that, if it is paper or cardboard that has undergone certain chemical treatments, or, simply, has been stained with dirt that cannot be removed , the paper in question is unusable to be recycled.
What kind of paper cannot be recycled
In this way, the paper or cardboard that cannot be recycled is the one that contains more elements in addition to what we could purely qualify as “paper”. In some cases, it may not be all paper. In this case, the best that can be done is to remove the “contaminated” part of the paper and discard it, while the part that is in good condition should be taken to the blue container.
Some examples of paper that cannot be recycled are:
Toilet or toilet paper
This type of paper is usually stained with fluids that cannot be removed without destroying the cellulose itself and, consequently, it is impossible to recycle it. However, if we use toilet paper, for example, only to dry water , we will be facing a paper that can be recycled . This is because the water will evaporate without leaving any residue, so we will keep toilet paper in good condition. Unfortunately, this happens very rarely, so toilet or sanitary paper is one of the papers that would not be included in the list of papers for recycling.
Waxed or paraffin paper
As in the previous case, this type of paper cannot be recycled because the waxing it contains makes it impossible to separate the cellulose from the wax . Because of this, it would also be among the types of paper that cannot be recycled.
Fatty paper or cardboard
It is usually found in the case of packaging to carry drinks or food, for example pizzas. This type of cardboard is contaminated by fat from food and it is impossible for it to be recycled. However, as we have already mentioned, this only affects the part contaminated by fat. In the case of a pizza box, the part that is not in contact with grease could be recycled, which is usually the upper part of the box in question.
Self-copy paper, thermal fax paper, or photo paper
In these cases, the problem remains the same even if it is not fat from food. The problem is that this type of paper does not allow the cellulose to be separated from the additives that have been supplied for its manufacture and, consequently, it is impossible for them to be recycled.
However, beyond the fact that there is paper and cardboard that cannot be recycled, perhaps the most important of all, is to understand why it is important to recycle the paper that can. This is because it saves available resources, which, at the same time, avoids having to use raw materials for the first time. That is, the wood.
As we have mentioned, paper and cardboard are mainly composed of cellulose, which is obtained from the wood of trees, which implies its felling. Although it is true that most of the paper comes from tree plantations carried out de facto for this purpose, if we reduce the consumption of paper and encourage its recycling, we will reduce the demand for wood and, consequently, the felling of many trees.
One of the factors that must be taken into account is that the wood used in the manufacture of paper, although it comes from plantations for this purpose, entails the destruction of forests and ecosystems. This can be explained in the search for land to locate the plantations in question. Not all trees are optimal for making paper, which means that, many times, entire forests are cut down to obtain arable soil . This growing soil can be used for agricultural or industrial crops, such as paper-producing crops. On the contrary, if we reduce our use of paper and encourage its recycling, we will reduce the demand for paper as a whole and, consequently, it will not be necessary to indiscriminate felling of trees in forests and the lands already felled will be able to be reforested again.